There is more to New Jersey than The Sopranos and Garden State—it is also one of the most densely populated states in the US, which means crowds on land and crowds in the water. Luckily, Jersey also has one of the most surf-dense coastlines in the US—at least as far as number of surf breaks goes. And if the ocean does happen to go flat, there is virtually unlimited entertainment to be had in the parks and casinos and along the famous boardwalks. If the central East Coast has a thriving beach culture, it’s in New Jersey.

The Surf: Mostly beach breaks and jetties with the odd point thrown in for good measure. In general, this is a beginner to advanced surf region.

Five Waves Worth Surfing:

  1. Trestles: This isn’t San Clemente and you won’t be blowing the tail out at Lowers, but Jersey’s sandbar version of Trestles is nothing to turn your nose up at. Like it’s Californian counterpart, Trestles in Jersey has suffered from access problems due to military and government regulation, but that has never stopped intrepid surfers from scoring epic, empty waves, has it?
  2. Nun’s Beach: Drawing its name from a nearby convent, Nun’s isn’t likely to see nude sunbathers anytime soon—but at least it has a decent series of beach break peaks.
  3. Manasquan Inlet: One of the better known waves in Jersey—and with the crowds to prove it—Manasquan is a fun righthander breaking off of a jetty.
  4. Sandy Hook (The Cove): An accidental man-made wave, The Cove is a righthand point that can be epic on its day, with a number of beach break options in the vicinity to release crowd pressure.
  5. Anywhere: New Jersey is basically one long stretch of beach break, with dozens of jetties and break walls conveniently creating peaky sandbars all over the place. Virtually every street, alley and footpath leads to a “named” break, so go exploring and see where you end up.

The Water: New Jersey has a reputation for dirty water, which is understandable considering the population and development in the area. The reality, however, is that strict water quality regulations keep things in control and Jersey isn’t really any more polluted than your average Southern California beach break. Water temps, on the other hand, are as bad as you’ve heard—at least in winter. Surface temps range from 37 to 73 F (3 to 23 C), so depending on when you come, you could get a sunburn or die of hypothermia.

The Season: As with the rest of the East Coast, it’s all about hurricane season in New Jersey, with September through November seeing good weather and consistent swells in water that isn’t too cold. Summer (June through August) is warm and somewhat inconsistent, but still surfable, while spring (March through May) is deceptively cold and less consistent than you’d think. Winter is downright frigid and practically empty, but the waves pump.

The Vibe: Lots of people equals lots of conflict, so summer and fall can be somewhat chaotic—but if you keep your wits about you and don’t hassle anyone, you should be fine. In winter you’ll be begging people to surf with you.

Things To Do: Cruise the boardwalk. Throw away your money at the casinos. People-watch on the beaches. Take a day trip to NYC or Atlantic City. Practice your best Joisy accent—“How you doin’?”

Where To Stay: Jersey is expensive, so if you can, befriend a local with an empty couch as soon as possible.

What To Bring: A shortboard and something fun for small/soft days (longboard or fish). Various rubber suits of different thicknesses, depending on when you are coming and how long you’ll be staying. Cash for the casinos and parking fees and street vendors and practically everything. A few gold chains and some hair gel.

Getting There: Newark Liberty International is New Jersey’s main airport, but the state is less than a day’s drive from practically the entire East Coast. US visa rules apply. Airport code: EWR.